Young and not-so-young tackle Mount Evans Hill Climb

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By Dan Johnson

IDAHO SPRINGS — The 2008 Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb bike race was a family affair for the Whitesels.

Patrick, 11, and younger brother Peter, 9, were both competing in the youth race while their dad, Bruce, drove behind in support. This was the first year for the two boys to compete in the race.

“I used to race years ago,” Bruce Whitesel said. The family resides in Idaho Springs. “I started the boys in the junior program last year. They’ve mostly done timed rides, so this will be a little longer.”

Just a bit.

Riders started their day at 7,540 feet at Clear Creek Middle School. From the school, riders make their way towards Echo Lake, then they turn and head for the Mount Evans summit, which rests at 14,264 feet.

The Mount Evans Hill Climb began in 1962 and has been held 42 times since, with only three years cancelled due to inclement weather.

The race was renamed in 1981 in honor of five-time race winner Bob Cook, who died of cancer at just 23 years of age.

While the adult riders traveled 28 miles on July 19, the kids’ race was cutoff after 10 miles. Still, that’s quite a ways for a youngster to travel on a bike.

“I’m excited,” Patrick said. “It’s all uphill.”

While the Whitesel boys might’ve been experiencing their first substantial climb, it was business as usual for Evergreen’s Aaron Bachik.

Bachik, 36, took part in the Senior Men’s Category 4 race and finished the 28-mile ride in 10th place with a time of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 18 seconds. Prior to the race, Bachik discussed his strategy.

“The first six miles are easy,” Bachik said. “You won’t see anyone going out full-force yet. The riders will then settle in and ride in a pack. Once you get past Echo Lake and have about three miles to go, then hopefully you have something left in the tank and can drop the hammer.”

Bachik said the conditions at race time were ideal.

“You really can’t ask for better weather,” Bachik said. “The sun is out, there’s a little breeze going. It’s good.”

Aaron Jack won the Category 4 race in 2:08:20. Greg Ross was the Category 3 winner (2:02.32) and Kevin Nicol won the Category 1-2 race in 1:53.21. Jeanne Longo won the Women’s Category 1-2 race in 2:10:10.